In Winnipeg, the Assiniboine River is the world’s longest naturally frozen skating trail. Stretching west 10km from city center, it receives over 4 million visitors annually. With temperatures exceeding – 40° C, warming huts are placed every kilometer along the trail for visitors to escape the cold. ROPE pavilion, winner of the 2012 Warming Huts: An Art + Architecture Competition, was constructed alongside pavilions built by Frank Gehry, Patricia Patkau, and Antoine Predock.
Through the combination of simple materials, ROPE pavilion creates a highly articulated form and space while nestling itself into the Assiniboine River Trail’s Landscape. Its relationship of skin – unmanila rope and structure – birch frame, merge to form a warming hut whose dense shell blocks winter winds while still being perforated for light and views. The wood interior creates a sense of warmth through color and texture and its multilayered rope exterior collects snow, further embedding it within the site. The hut’s dome-like form is optimized for heat retention, bifurcating only for an entry threshold and oculus to the sky above.
ROPE pavilion’s innovative application of material and form emerged from an intense prototyping process. Instead of relying solely on standard architectural and fabrication drawings to communicate intent, over 25 full-scale prototypes and models were created to help bridge the gap between representation and production. Operating in this fertile territory enabled us to understand and overcome material and fabrication challenges, establish new parameters, and bring forward latent design potentials.